Animal Passion Podcast Launches with Premier Episode on Tennessee Walking Horse Abuse Featuring Leading Anti-Soring Advocate Marty Irby  

Series Highlights Abusive Practice of Soring During Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration Occurring this Week

Today, Alaqua Animal Refuge announced the launch of the Animal Passion video podcast series. Hosted by Alaqua Founder Laurie Hood, Animal Passion spotlights the work of advocates from all around the globe—the “difference makers” who have dedicated their lives to animal protection and safety.

In Hood’s quest to advance the interests of animals, Animal Passion spotlights amazing individuals, and shares their stories and videos of their work in an effort to rally all animal lovers to create much needed and lasting change. The podcast offers insight and inspiration through conversations with extraordinary animal advocates working across a broad spectrum of fields.

One of the first three inaugural episodes features the life work of Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action in Washington, D.C., who was honored in 2020 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II for his dedication to protect horses. Irby’s background as an 8-time World Champion equestrian, past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, and testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as personal cost to end the abusive practice of soring – the intentional infliction of pain to horses’ feet to achieve an artificial high-step known as the “Big Lick” that’s prized at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration occurring this week in Shelbyville, Tennessee – provides the basis of the storyline.

The episode can be watched now on the Animal Passion Podcast YouTube Channel here or listened to on every major podcast site.

Other inaugural episodes include:

  • Buck Wilde and Esther Gossweiler (documentarians focusing on Alaskan sea wolves and grizzly bears)
  • Ellie Phipps Price (American Wild Horse Campaign President)

In the following weeks, additional podcasts will be uploaded and will feature:

  • Monty Roberts (Author of The Man Who Listens to Horses)
  • Odessa Gunn (Animal Wellness Center Northern California Director)
  • Sonya Spaziani, A.K.A “Mustang Meg” (Founder of Mustang Wild)
  • Emma Clifford (Animal Balance Founder and Director)

 “This is some of the most important work I have done for animals so far. These are amazing guests at the top of the animal welfare world who work tirelessly for the animals they love, in their own way,” said Laurie Hood, host of the Animal Passion Podcast. “These podcast episodes get you up close and personal with wild horses, wolves, bears, and other animals who are under siege around world. My hope is that every viewer will be moved to join with us and help us be their voice.”

“I am deeply honored to be included in the new Animal Passion podcast series and am so grateful for the tremendous work of Laurie Hood, and everyone at Alaqua Animal Refuge,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “It is my greatest hope that this podcast will help us see the end of soring and restoration of the Tennessee Walking Horse breed to its rightful place as America’s horse, the horse that Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Dale Evans, and Elvis Presley rode.”

Through education and awareness, the goal of the podcast series is to dramatically reduce the need for rescue and refuge, as well as be an avenue to entertain, inform, inspire, and encourage support for this important work of making the world a better place for all animals.

Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary, located in the panhandle of Florida. As the Southeast’s premier 501(c)3 refuge, Alaqua believes that every abused, neglected, and homeless animal deserves a second chance. Committed to providing protection, shelter, and care to animals in need, this private, non-profit Refuge also offers a full-service adoption center, educational outreach, and community programs that extend far beyond their geographic location. Since its inception in 2007, Alaqua, led by Founder Laurie Hood, has become a recognized leader in animal rescue, welfare, cruelty prevention, and advocacy. Alaqua is currently in the midst of a relocation and expansion capital campaign to build a one-of-a-kind facility—the first in the United States—on 100 acres. The new facility and sanctuary will allow Alaqua to continue to do the important work of animal rescue and rehabilitation, as well as be an educational and training center for animal welfare advocates as a place that will inspire, empower, and educate others to make change in our society and recreate the model worldwide. To learn more, visit

 Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies, and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Contact: Marty Irby at 202-821-5686 or



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